Keira Knightley Wants the Stupids to Stop Using ‘Feminist’ as an Insult

Illustration for article titled Keira Knightley Wants the Stupids to Stop Using ‘Feminist’ as an Insult

How the hell did feminism become a dirty word? Keira Knightley doesn't know or care, really — she's just glad that people are starting to wise up and stop slinging the word "feminist" around like it's some sort of insult and not just a thing that a reasonable human being would call herself or (gasp!) himself.

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In an upcoming interview with Harper's Bazaar UK, Knightley offered some thoughts on how much harder women in show business have it than their male counterparts and the gross mistreatment the concept of feminism has received in popular discourse over the last several years. For starters, she never quite understood why people started using "feminist" as an insult because the English languish, in all its absurd vulgarity, has a bajillion actual insults that are really satisfying to deploy. Like "rapscallion" or "numpty," which I just looked up on an extremely slapdash dictionary of Scottish insults and am hoping isn't wildly offensive.

Said a perplexed Knightley:

I think it's great that the discussions are finally being allowed to be had [about feminism], as opposed to anybody mentioning feminism and everybody going, 'Oh, fucking shut up.' Somehow, it [feminism] became a dirty word. I thought it was really weird for a long time, and I think it's great that we're coming out of that.

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As for being a busy actress in Hollywood, Knightley said she realized her male counterparts were relying on their spouses to take care of all their personal shit, which seems pretty unfair:

I go to work at 5.30 in the morning; I wouldn't get back probably until nine o'clock at night. Most of the guys that I talk to – and I've spoken to a lot of guys about it – they say [whispers], 'My wife does everything.' You think, 'Why wasn't I thinking about this five years ago?' Hollywood has a really long way to go. I don't think that anybody can deny that, really, and I think as much as you are getting more women playing lead roles…they're still pretty few and far between.

To be absolutely fair, though, some would-be leading ladies were pushed out of the industry solely on merit:

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– they say [whispers], 'My wife does everything.'

I hear this in academia too. Of the women I know, most of the tenured professors and the ones on the tenure track at the most prestigious schools don't have children. But that seems to be changing. Of course, that doesn't make it easy. One woman I know who has children and is on the tenure clock completely through her university for a loop when she got pregnant. They had no policy at all. It had literally never happened before and they didn't know what to do. They 'accommodated' her, but it essentially meant that when she came back after leave she had to double her work to make up for it, which is not easy given how much you're already expected to do while on the clock.